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“No worries.” “New normal.” “Circle back.” “You’re on mute.”

These are among the most overused, misused and generally groan-inducing phrases, according to the judges of a Michigan university’s annual “Banished Words List.”

The phrase “wait, what?” topped Lake Superior State University in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula lighthearted list of 10 winners chosen from among more than 1,250 submissions. “Wait, what?” irritated nominators who felt the phrase intended to show astonishment or disbelief is overused.

“I hate it,” one wrote. Another added: “I don’t want to wait.”

The second slot went to another overused phrase: “No worries.” Nominators said it’s dismissive.

“If I’m not worried, I don’t want anyone telling me not to worry,” one contributor said. “If I am upset, I want to discuss being upset.”

The 10 “winners” were chosen from among more than 1,250 submissions to the judges of the cheeky annual exercise. The university began compiling an annual list in 1976. Past nods have gone to “amazing,” “détente,” “surely,” “epic,” “classic,” “bromance,” “Ok, Boomer” and “COVID-19.” 

“At the end of the day,” “that being said” and “asking for a friend” were ranked No. 4, 5 and 6, respectively on the new list. One nominator remarked that “asking for a friend” is “an occasional sitcom joke” and “now an overused tag with absolutely no relationship to its antecedent.”

“Circle back” comes in at No. 6 on the list. “The most overused phrase in business, government, or other organization since ‘synergy’,” one nominator said. (The school notes that “synergy” was banished in 2002 as “evasive blanket terminology and smarty-pants puffery.”)

There are only three entries associated with the pandemic this year after it dominated last year’s list.

“One possible takeaway from all this about the act and art and science of disclosing something is the more things change, the more things stay the same,” said Peter Szatmary, executive director of marketing and communications at the university. “At the very least, it’s complicated.”

“New normal” is ranked No. 8, and nominators criticized its overuse and questioned the logic behind the phrase.

“After a couple of years, is any of this really ‘new’?” one wrote.

“You’re on mute,” and “supply chain,” rounded out the list — a nod to our continued reliance on virtual meetings and widely reported shortages of consumer products ranging from computer chips to furniture.

“Supply chain issues have become the scapegoat of everything that doesn’t happen or arrive on time and of every shortage,” one nominator said.



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